Profound Revelations is proud and honored to introduce the brave and fierce women who marched for justice and women’s rights on January 21, 2017. This special series, Women On The March, presents for the first time, their own stories, in their own words. Brought to you by a very humbled, Tom Dye, The Safety Guy.
My Wake Up Call At The March On Washington
By E. B.
So, after a marathon 42 hours of no sleep, sitting on a cramped bus for 10 hours, holding a four-sided sign over my head ala the boombox scene from Say Anything for what seemed like an absolutely ungodly amount of time, and walking literally ALL day…. I can barely move a finger. There is not one bone in this 49-year-old body that doesn’t ache, yet I feel absolutely energized and on fire.
As I sit down to write about my experiences at the Women’s March On Washington, there are so many that I’m overwhelmed with the magnitude of putting them into words.
Should I write about the bus ride from and to Sandy Hook, CT with members of Sandy Hook Promise, a cause for action and a voice for the victims of the massacre, many of whom were on that bus? Should I write about the throngs of Marchers pressed together like happy sardines in a tin of resolve and camaraderie? That I never got to see the speakers, let alone hear them, because of the million peaceful pink hats in my way?
How about my four-sided sign and all the responses to it (Many said it was their favorite. It was so good, the best, huuuge!) and the logistical nightmare it entailed throughout the day? The conversations with my friend, Christie, were enlightening and, at times, side-splittingly funny. Her graciousness putting up with my sign ego while proudly sporting her AWESOME pink and white polka dotted pussy hat from Japan. Did she buy the hat in a moment of clairvoyance all those months ago prior to the March? Our conversations alone would enthrall you (believe me – they are the best because we know words, the best words.) Describing the signs and their funny, poignant, inspiring, empowering messages? Meeting my state Reps who implored us to keep voicing our opposition to oppression? Being interviewed by a video blogger about why I march (got to plug about healthcare is a human right, not a commodity or privilege!)
I could fill a blog with every peaceful, positive, loving encounter and interaction, but it would be never ending. After four attempts from different angles, I decided to write about the effect the March has had on me, and in particular, one effect that was a recurring, reflective look in the mirror throughout the day.
BEFORE THE MARCH
I was enraged for the past 8 years that the majority of my government “representatives” were obstructionists and shutting down the government like spoiled children engulfed in a temper tantrum as opposed to adults compromising to move our country forward. Scared that the rhetoric and hatred being spewed by the lowly fringes of our society were being harbored and cultivated by those very same members of government. Furious that a pussy grabbing racist had the audacity to run for president, let alone win. Astounded when the predominantly white, father figure authoritarian complex males (and some females) started bellowing their demands that we deal with their, and their leader’s, bigoted, narrow, misogynistic, objectifying, demeaning rhetoric and actions. Otherwise, we were whiny crybabies, bitches, and sore losers, angered that we didn’t get our way. Ordering us to accept their new version of normal.
The past 19 months have been an exercise of mass psychological abuse like no other. Questioning our collective, perceived and mandated morality as a nation and permeating every faction of our lives, right down to sleep patterns. (Some more than others, I’m sure.) I have argued and defended, been offended and offensive, joked and eye rolled, typed furiously and in CAPS. To no avail. I felt alone, at times, helpless, but encouraged that others felt the same way. Then I got the call to March. The battle horns (I would say trumpets… but I just can’t!) were sounding and I answered the call.
I’ve been to protests before, even at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. For the past 13 years, I’ve fought the insurance industry battle as a victim of medical bankruptcy and the experience of helplessness and uncertainty of being dropped by Anthem BCBS while in ICU, all medical payments rescinded for the previous two years, finding myself close to $400,000 in debt and uninsurable. All while healing. It was like being raped. The despair – overwhelming. I’d gone to rallies, meetings with representatives, commissioners. Telling my story.
THE STORIES I HEARD
None of that experience prepared me for what I witnessed at the Women’s March. From the sheer mass quantity of the people to the soul enriching collective of our resolve. Going in, I wanted to represent for all the victims of the insurance industry who were too weak to fight it themselves. I wanted to stand up and be counted among the Pussies (or Pussi?), to show solidarity with all minorities.
Just by being a woman I could relate to the experiences of the rest of the Marchers. The inappropriate comments, the hand that lingers too long, the acquaintance whose hug turns into an intrusive kiss. Being expected to back down, apologize for my mere presence. Being reprimanded, called a bitch for speaking up, pushing the hand away, or demanding equal pay, time, anything. My biggest misogynistic pet peeve is being talked over or at, as if I need to be educated, regardless of the subject. Especially the mansplaining. ARRGGGHHH!
So, I could relate and was empathetic to the stories I was hearing. But the stories of my Black, Muslim, Sikh, Asian, brown sisters humbled me. Their daily lives dealing with racism, misogyny, violence, stereotypes just because of the way they looked was something I needed to hear in person. I realized that despite knowing the narrative and having empathy, I never truly had the discussion, even though I’ve had multiple opportunities to listen. I rested on the laurels of a white person raised on the east coast by fair-minded people, as if that was all I needed to justify my stance against racial discrimination. I was ashamed that in my 49 years I have never once taken action against the oppression I say I despise.
23 years ago, a friend was upset that a coworker said “I think of you as white.” It was meant as a compliment by the coworker but we were all aghast at the callous racist remark. After that, I had a discussion about racism with my friend. I made the very white remark that surely things have gotten better. She gave me a look I would never forget and invited me to an experiment.
That weekend she, her husband, who also was black, and I went to downtown Bethel, CT, a bucolic peaceful town that I grew up in and was predominantly white. My friend and I sat on a bench while her husband, who was a large, formidable man, walked up and down the sidewalk on the other side of Greenwood Avenue. I was stunned as I watched people switch their pocketbooks to their opposite side, walked very circumvent around him, off the sidewalk, or just stopped and stared. It was a profound lesson of ingrained racism that has stayed with me all these years. The daily psychological toll of oppression must be exhausting, at best.
As a woman, I’ve experienced the subliminal and not so subliminal harassment of a male thinking society. But that is nothing compared to the added, daily, mental abuse endured by women of color.
Flash forward to the March. I’m hearing and witnessing the resolve of our citizens who have been fighting the good fight and are welcoming me and millions more to join. Empathy alone isn’t going to do it. Never did. As MLK said, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” I’ve been enlightened in a way that can only be described as life changing.
How can I go back to just watching news reports of oppression? Do posts of my indignation? Suddenly I was aware that after we marched in solidarity, we walked past vendors with Black Lives Matter t-shirts on our way to the bus. Our (my) blind hypocrisy and white girl privilege was suddenly glaringly obvious and, as I reflect, enshrined in my daily life. Empathy is not enough, never was, and now I know.
So, what to do? The good thing about my self epiphany is that the work and mantle of responsibility for racial justice has been carrying on without me. The NAACP, BLM, the King Center, ACLU, have been fighting the good fight, and now I’ve joined them. I’ve signed up for updates, donated money, and, most importantly, will show up in solidarity whenever they sound the ‘horns’. I’ve also started canvassing for a local Democrat running for my regional Representative seat in the State Senate in a special election next month, started planning a trip in June to Washington, DC (think they give discounts for frequent visits of constitutional outspokenness?) to stand (or dance) in solidarity with my friends in the LGBTQ community during the Pride Parade 2017, signed up for event updates from my local chapter of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut. It’s only been a week since the March but I’m raring to go as are four million other pussies worldwide.
This Women’s March was a wake-up call for our nation. Some have hit the snooze button, slept through it, or stubbornly refuse to open their eyes. But millions have awoken with a renewed (reborn, if you will let me be so casual) sense of fire and fight.
The minority in possession of power will look back on this time as the beginning of the end of their desired and fraudulent control of us, our bodies, and our voices. This March was never about them or any one elected official. It was a beautiful, symbiotic melding of Pure Pussy Power. I am of the majority and we ROAR!
Now, time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.